Marquette County Board opposes aggregate mine legislation

The Marquette County Board of Commissioners voiced its opposition to proposed aggregate mine legislation.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 11:19 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Marquette County Board wants Michigan municipalities to retain control of aggregate mines.

Three Michigan House bills would essentially take local control away from municipalities like Marquette County. That’s what Commission Chair Gerald Corkin explained Tuesday night during the Marquette County Board meeting. Corkin read aloud a letter of opposition to the legislation. The bills would give permitting and regulatory power for aggregate mines to the state.

“It’s an important issue, especially here in the U.P., one that they’ve tried to get rid of for a number of years,” Corkin said.

Those in the mining industry and other lobbyists have claimed some municipalities are abusing their power, blocking any new mines and disrupting the supply chain.

“Any time we take away local control that’s a problem, government is always best served locally, Lansing doesn’t know what Michigamme Township needs, nor do we know what Alpena may need,” said Joe Derocha, Marquette County Board Vice Chair.

Marquette County isn’t alone in its opposition to the bills.

“The legislation seizes all local authority and allows a sand and gravel mine, crushing facility, or storage facility to operate anywhere in a community regardless of zoning. this undermines any ability of local officials to balance the needs of all property owners within their jurisdictional boundary,” the Michigan Municipal League said in a statement.

“We’re opposed to that, we think we’re in a better position, we’re better situated, the local municipalities, to decide what’s right for them, for those municipalities and not Lansing,” said Bill Nordeen, Marquette County Board Member.

Commissioner Nordeen also takes exception to the legislation’s classification of a gravel or sand pit being deemed a mine.

“They’re defining mines as taking aggregate out of the ground, out of the subsurface and you have pretty much the same regulations as you do for a full-fledged mine and I think that’s probably inappropriate and it’s burdensome on people like us in the U.P. where we own raw land and we do use those minerals, the gravel and the sand,” Nordeen said.

The legislation was introduced on May 4. The bills are currently in a House committee.